This week more than 20 per cent of readers (4) said they wanted more of the column devoted to alternative investments. “These days you need to be ready to spend $10m to buy something decent in the classic car department. That’s way out of the reach of most of us on Struggle Street,” writes MM from Stepney, South Australia.
So get your self-managed super ready because we’ll be looking at everything from jewellery, to submarines (if they’re good enough for ScoMo they’re good enough for us) to, very unfortunately, motorcycles (the quickest way to the afterlife).
When Michael McMichael talks, governments listen!
Within days of the old bloke suggesting the crowd in Canberra buy some pre-owned subs rather than wait until we are all dead and China has become part of Singapore to build new ones, our own Joe Kelly (who moonlights as singer songwriter and gained the ultimate accolade from our own Chris Kenny – who moonlights on his own TV show – “Joe you tickle the ivories with some aplomb”) revealed that Minister Dutton and Minister Birmingham are looking at used sub dealers to lease a couple of demo models. As my motorcycling boss says (and that’s why he’s paid the big bucks and rides a two wheeler), “they’re doing that to keep them off balance sheet”.
Look I don’t care what kind of subs we get (as long as they’re not electric), I just want to point out that older subs are now in a price bracket we can afford. If you want to use yours to go to war then that’s your business.
Until Covid, the quickest way to lose money was to buy a new car. As you leave the free balloons, the free sausage sizzle, the Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Persons (we pay $500 for ours from Imprint 5 in the US or you can go all the way with the Wacky Waving Inflatable Unisex Tube Person suit complete with back zipper for under $100 from HalloweenCostumes.com.au), you have just transferred 40 per cent of the price you paid from your wallet into the ether. On the other hand, if you win the new car lottery and score a Land Cruiser or a Yaris GR Rallaye you can immediately sell it for 15 per cent more.
Buying the new sub caper is worse. So you write the Yanks a Gregory Peck for $9bn. You pick the sub up in Adelaide 30 years later, the governor cracks a bottle of US sparkling (no French, on the nose), the good ship (insert you or your partner’s name here) slides down the slipway, you dress up like Sean Connery who dresses up like Captain 1st rank Marko Ramius and despite being Russian speaks in a Scottish accent and you utter your first commands: “All ahead full. Fifteen degrees on the down plane” and immediately your $9bn piece of 30-year-old nuclear wizardry is worth four fifths of fluff all.
Don’t believe me? Ask the soap dodgers. Asia Times editor Dave Makichuk tells me Britain has retired 20 nuclear submarines since 1980. None have been sold. And even though they’re not cruising around under Russia or China you still have to keep them partially crewed.
But as usual we have the answer for you and Australia as a whole. Our friends at shipsforsale.com (Ships for sale – for all types of ships for sale, from fishing boats to aircraft carriers) have just sold a Whiskey (there’s your first clue) Class 75 metre with twin 500KW diesels for the price of a Fezzer F8 Tributo or the unfortunately named Lambo Urus. So a saving of nearly $9bn. Straight into the pool room with that one.
Next up is Dan Gick’s engagement rings. Danny, the boss of Scrap Car Comparison, rang me from his office in Fareham, Hampshire, to say: “Johnny I’ve just launched a new service that enables car lovers to create a bespoke ring designed to look like the motor closest to their other half’s heart.” Dan has teamed up with ethical jeweller and engagement ring specialist London’s Ed Fleming to give breaved persons (not bereaved because they’re engaged, but who knows?) who have had to scrap or say goodbye to a beloved vehicle to be able to wear something that reminds them of their favourite motor at all times. Dan tells me he’s aiming to “pair romance with a ring reminiscent of the revving of your partner’s favourite engine”.
“For years, materials from the catalytic converters found in scrapped car exhausts have been recycled and used in standard wedding and engagement rings. However, our new service aims to take things one step further, with bespoke designs mirroring the aesthetics of any motor. Have a look at the website you can see rings made for Ford Fiesta, original Mini Cooper and Lamborghini Huracán owners,” he says.
I hate to admit it but old two-wheeler transport is not a bad investment. In two weeks Bonhams will be at The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show in Stafford with some very sweet machines. Maybe not as sweet as the 1936 Brough Superior 982cc SS 100 they sold last year for the price of a Whiskey sub, but have a look at the 1974 Ducati 750SS from the Hans Schifferle Collection. Hans was one of the world’s great film critics but more importantly for us, one of the great two-wheel collectors. Cycle magazine called the SS as “a bike that stands at the farthest reaches of the sporting world – the definitive factory-built café racer”. Bonhams say: “Today the 750SS is regarded as a true landmark model and is one of the most sought-after of all Ducatis.”
My guess is the auction house estimates are low at $250k but if you can steal it for below that it would look super next to the sub and the Lambo engagement ring in the pool room or person cave.